Adam Vinatieri retires as NFL's all-time leading scorer after 24 seasons

·4 min read

The NFL's most decorated kicker and all-time leading scorer is calling quits. 

After 24 seasons and four Super Bowl championships, Adam Vinatieri announced on Wednesday that he's retiring at 48 years old. The former New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts kicker broke the news to a fellow former Colts kicking specialist on the "Pat McAfee Show."

(The video below contains NSFW language)

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"Should we just make it real?" Vinatieri asked McAfee, who punted for the Colts while Vinatieri was the team's place kicker. ... "By Friday, if paperwork goes in, you heard it here first."

Vinatieri played key role in launching Patriots dynasty

Vinatieri joined the NFL in 1996 with the New England Patriots. He played 10 seasons with New England that included the front end of the Patriots dynasty with Tom Brady and Belichick, where he won three Super Bowls. 

He kicked game-winning field goals in two of those Super Bowls including a 48-yarder as time ran out to secure a 20-17 win over the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI. That victory against the 14-point favorite "Greatest Show on Turf" Rams launched the New England dynasty.

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Vinatieri also converted on a pair of critical field goals in the infamous "tuck rule" playoff game against the Oakland Raiders that same postseason that allowed the Patriots to advance to the AFC championship game. 

Amid swirling winds and heavy snow, Vinatieri converted on a 45-yard field goal in the final minute to force overtime. He then kicked a 23-yard field goal in the extra session to secure the win.

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Two seasons later, Vinatieri struck again at the Super Bowl. With Super Bowl XXXVIII against the Carolina Panthers tied at 29-29 with nine seconds remaining, Belichick called on his kicker with a chance to win the game.

Vinatieri had missed both of his previous attempts that day. But his third attempt from 41 yards split the uprights with four seconds remaining, securing New England's second Super Bowl title in three years. 

Vinatieri went on to win a third Super Bowl in New England the next season. He didn't kick a game-winner that day, but his 22-yard field goal in the fourth quarter proved to be the final margin of victory in a 24-21 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. 

Another Super Bowl win with Peyton Manning, Colts

In 2006, Vinatieri joined Peyton Manning and the rival Indianapolis Colts. He went on to win another Super Bowl after the 2006 season. The Colts didn't require his heroics that day in a 29-17 win over the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI.

Vinatieri went on to spend 14 seasons with the Colts, where he last kicked in 2019. He finished that season on injured reserve and required offseason surgery on his left knee and didn't play in 2020. He'd previously hinted at attempting a comeback in 2021, but ultimately decided to retire instead of attempting to play another season a 49 years old. 

Vinatieri retires having converted 599 of 715 (83.8%) field-goal attempts and 874 of 898 (97.3%) extra points. He made three Pro Bowls and was named All-Pro three times. His 2,673 points are the most all time ahead of the 2,544 points scored by Hall of Fame kicker Morten Andersen. Vinatieri is a good bet to join him in Canton. 

Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri (4) on the sidelines during the NFL game between the Denver Broncos and the Indianapolis Colts on October 27, 2019 at Lucas Oil Stadium, in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Adam Vinatieri helped launch the Patriots dynasty before spending 14 seasons with the rival Colts. (Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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